What is macronutrient balance and why should you care? Well, let’s start with a simpler question. What are macronutrients? Simply stated, macronutrients are the things we eat the most of. They are the major (macro) food categories, the kinds of foods from which we get the majority of our calories, namely protein, fat and carbohydrates. Some people include water in the list. In contrast, micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, are the substances that our bodies need, but in much smaller (micro) amounts. As an aside, the practice of balancing macronutrients could well be the source of the term “a balanced diet”.
A diet that is wildly imbalanced in macronutrients can make your appetite fluctuate, causing overeating or binge eating. For example, if you’re not getting enough of one macronutrient, your body might literally be starving on a nutritional level, regardless of how many calories you are consuming, and will “force” you to eat by making you hungry all the time in an attempt to get what it needs.
Although a significant imbalance in macronutrients also increases the risk of chronic disease, there is no hard and fast rule for what the proper macronutrient balance is. Bodies are different and people’s goals are different. A body-builder, for example, might aim for 40-60% of the diet from carbs while a person trying to shed body fat might reduce carbs to 10-20% of the total food she eats in a day, compensating by eating more protein.
One guideline is that, in no case should protein be less than 25% of your daily intake and fat should never go below 15% of your total calories. That’s because normal hormone production relies on adequate fat in the diet. Instead of getting your fat from a pint of ice cream though, stick to healthier sources of dietary fat such as , olives, , olive oil, salmon, grass-fed beef, , ground flax seeds, , tofu, edamame, beans, , and walnuts.
Some people advise that your ideal macronutrient balance should also take into account your body type. More on that in a future post.
Rebeca Espinoza writes about health, fitness and weight loss for Spatz Medical, makers of the Spatz3 Adjustable Gastric Balloon. You can find her on Google+ or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Like the Spatz3 Adjustable Gastric Balloon page on Facebook or follow us on Pinterest for healthy eating tips, inspiring quotes, videos and photos and more.